Yoani Sanchez, Values and Social Classes

Erasmo Calzadilla

Calle Belascoain. Photo; Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — I love reading Yoani Sanchez’ posts. Her writing has the kind of power many of us want for our own. I can see clearly why she wins international competitions, has become famous and has no shortage of enemies.

I admire her because, instead of leaving the country or using her intelligence for personal interests, as young people with talent tend to do here, she decided to stay and struggle for the freedom and democracy we dearly need.

I am not among those who believe everything she writes is of great value – I tend to agree with the details but almost never with the overall focus she gives the issues.

Sanchez devotes one of her last posts to criticize the campaign against social misconduct and efforts at rescuing lost values being impelled by Cuban media today.

The campaign is indeed ridiculous, tasteless and not very believable. Those at the top wash their hands of everything laying the blame on the family and schools – they are not in the least self-critical and do not even essay a humble confession about the extent to which they undermined the family, the community, culture and social norms, as Sanchez accurately explains.

What could they possibly ask of a people whom they have bombarded for more than fifty years with the example of a rude, aggressive, self-worshiping and lying guy whose political principles consisted in being disrespectful and turning a deaf ear on what others said? Sanchez closes the post asking how we are going to fix this disastrous situation.

I write this post to expound on my idea as to how to fix it. Before, however, I would like to touch on the views of the creator of Generation Y.

I don’t believe the existence of Cuba’s lumpen-proletariat (to call it that) is owed to the bad example set by Big Brother or the huge mess he brought about trying his hand at social engineering.

If that were the case, we would have also imitated his devotion to work, for example, and that was not the case. The “root cause” of our misfortunes, in my humble opinion, is to be found in social alienation, that is to say, in the way people have been denied participation in public affairs, and in the elimination of civil society. All of this is closely linked to the colossal asymmetry between those who rule and common folk.

More Structural than Personal

The emergence of anti-social behavior isn’t accidental (the fact a man with personality problems entrenched himself in power and established an anomalous regime, as Sanchez appears to be saying); the phenomenon has its roots in the property relations that exist and have existed in Cuba since colonial times.

Slavery, exploitation and the alienation brought about by capitalism (and, in the last fifty and so years, the State’s full control over all the means of production) are the structural factors that have turned our noble Cuba into a den of den of vice.

Events that have characterized the history of the regime, such as the disappearance of the middle class, the massive migration of people from the countryside to the city and the crisis of governability brought about by the aging of the leadership, have generalized and made more visible a phenomenon that was already throbbing between society’s tectonic plates.

I will try to say this more clearly, in case I didn’t make myself understood. My comments, I want to make clear, are aimed at, but not against, Yoani Sanchez, Alfonso Borges, the Head of the Ideology Department of the Communist Party Central Committee, the board of directors of the Cuban Radio and Television Institute, Miguel Barniz, the chubby-cheeked hosts of the Round Table and the university professors who are placing their knowledge at the service of the campaign for renewed social values.

We will continue to have social misconduct while people continue to be alienated from the fruits of labor and asymmetrical power relations continue to exist. If we fight the symptoms without treating the disease, if we tackle the revolt of the rabble without addressing its structural cause, we will pave the road towards the creation of new, refined and anti-social elite made up of the national revolutionary bourgeoisie and its ally, the nouveaux riches.

If we want a better Cuba (not merely a Cuba with better makeup, where the masses occupy the place allotted to them), we must struggle against class differences, no matter what forms they assume.

Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

8 thoughts on “Yoani Sanchez, Values and Social Classes

  • You have no idea what the majority of Cubans think. The majority of Cubans do not have a right to express what they really think. All you know is what the ruling elite tell you what the Cuban people are required to think.

  • “Fame” just because she has been elevated as a mouthpiece of US anti Cuba policy does not make her “famous.” Cuba has much better writers but then they are not for sale like she is. Her Latin American trip was a flop, there is a saying el “tuerto en el pais de los ciegos es rey” in her minuscule world of US paid and bought dissidents she is king.

  • ac,
    Thank you for taking the time to say that for many of us.
    What you omitted was the trillion dollar cost and effects of the U.S. embargo on the Cuban economy .
    While it is by no means a sure bet that Cuba will democratize and liberalize its economy and government after the embargo ends in the near future, it is 100% sure that as long as the embargo IS in effect the Leninist government will have a valid excuse for conditions being necessary as they are.
    End that embargo and they will have absolutely no cover for their totalitarian methods and institutions and they will lose the international support from the left they now enjoy. .
    I may be the only one who thinks that the end of the embargo will come fairly close to the end of capitalism and U.S. imperialist foreign policy which is predicated on spreading and preserving (totalitarian) capitalism .
    The end of capitalism comes when the owners of the corporations have automated to the point that very few humans will be employed even in what we tend to now think of as jobs that only humans can do .
    Once you add the super-human level machine intelligence that will evolve around 2021 to very advanced robotics, there will be very few jobs left for humans and capitalism will collapse.
    This is not a matter of debate
    Just as no manufacturer/corporation can refuse to move their plants to low cost labor nations at present without going out of business so too are they even now, replacing humans with dumb robotics or sophisticated programs at an ever-increasing rate .
    There is a confluence of events that guarantees transformational changes for humanity certainly in less than fifteen years IMO.
    As this all evolves capitalism will enter a last great crash as unemployment rates pass from 25% to 35% to 45% to 55% and so on.
    It’s just a matter of how much unemployment can kill capitalism .
    You should really see the trend escalate within 5-8 years .

  • Why does she cause you such heartburn? She earns her money through writing her blog. She earns a lot less than most writers who have achieved her level of fame. Besides, does that “wad of Euros” make what she writes any less credible? Don’t be a hater….

  • Wow! cynicism and pessimism fused together at the highest level! Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Cubans do not agree with you.

  • The problem also in addition to the fact that Yoani left and returned defeated in capitalist Switzerland (where no one paid attention to her) she has received much money and support from external agencies including the US government. Where she has been she extends her hand like a beggar. I saw her once in El Malecon near the Riviera with a wad of Euros buying the old phone cards for her tuits, how did she amass that much? Working hard?

  • Wth

    “I admire her because, instead of leaving the country or using her intelligence for personal interests, as young people with talent tend to do here, she decided to stay and struggle for the freedom and democracy we dearly need.”

    Its said that ignorance is bliss, but there should be a limit to how much “bliss” you show publicly. Yoani Sanchez DID left the country in 2002 and tried the oppressive capitalism of third world Switzerland (thats sarcasm). Two years later and after failing to make a living by herself and BEGGING the Cuban government for permission to return (that was basically the only way to return to Cuba after the 11 month rule of old) she returned home and THEN made a career from professional dissidence.

    Ironic how THAT made her to find the “American Dream” in socialist Cuba.

    I’m not sure if I follow the rest of your post, my information about Cuba is not current, but I do agree that they have been experiencing a large decile of values over the years.

    I may be wrong in my assessment, but family and school are indeed the main factors in the formation of values in the new generation and if you want to fix the HUGE issues they have, thats the place to start.

    Also, speak freely and don’t assume we know what you are talking about. Thats the point of this site: to openly discuss Cuban issues with people with different points of view from around the globe.

    And while at it, learns something about those “lost values”: calling someone “rude, aggressive, self-worshiping and lying guy whose political principles consisted in being disrespectful and turning a deaf ear on what others said” without providing evidence for your case is rude, aggressive, self-worshiping, hypocritical and moronic, since

    a) in the civilized world you are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law
    b) the civilized world considers that libel, a punishable offense
    c) you can’t seriously blame all formation issues in a single person or even a small group of people

    Cuba is going to continue to have social misconduct as long as the kids grow in an environment where stealing is “resolviendo”, prostitution is ok, insulting is a polite way to say hello and people studying to get a better future are idiots for wasting their time and not be in “la lucha”.

    And sure, the government is guilty of creating the conditions were people have to steal to survive, but the social acceptance of that is not their fault, is the fault of the parents that do so openly without shame and remorse. And once you grow in a toxic environment were parents, government and social structures lost all moral ground, you learn to be a selfish prick and make the law of the jungle your moral compass.

  • Sorry Erasmo, that ship has sailed. Class differences in Cuba have indelibly stained the fabric of society. Young Cubans with iPads who spend long weekends in Varadero will not willingly give up their privileges just to satisfy your jealously of their good fortune. Likewise, even if your class envy comes from a genuinely humanist perspective, Cubans do not have the work ethic to work three shifts, think original thoughts, and willingly forgo immediate gratification in order to insure that at least their children will have a better life. The sooner Cubans can get past trying to force everyone to live equal results and begin to work toward giving everyone equal opportunity, the better for everyone.

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